Wednesday, March 31, 2010

E-Cyling Bonanza!

So Gary and I have been trying to de-clutter our house (a long and slow process!). We finally managed to gather our e-waste together for our first trip to the Alameda County Computer Resource Center (ACCRC). Wooo whoo! The ACCRC is an organization that recycles most e-waste, if it can be plugged in, then there is a good chance that they will take it. Their fees are minimal, and they pride themselves on recycling all of the material locally. If they can't fix it, they take it apart and send bits and pieces to local refineries or recycling centers. They even take care to recycle any precious metals such as copper, which is sent to a copper smelter. So cool!

It's so exciting when you find a place that will take your "junk" and not just throw it in the landfill, but instead, find a way to re-use it! I had been looking for a place that recycled more than just computers and TVs, we had stuff like speakers, phones, wires, a fax machine, and computer printer. There is still more, but this was a start! It's amazing how much stuff you accumulate over the years.

When I got there, there were two men sitting in a cluttered shipping crate, which seemed to be a make-shift office. They appeared to be hard at work, when one man got up and came to help me unload.

As he took things out of my car he began to put sort them into piles.

Items are then further sorted and placed on pallets to be taken elsewhere. Check out all the TVs and Printers waiting to go, . . . and NOT to be dumped in our landfills!

So for all of that, I payed a total of $11, that's really not a lot, and I really hope people see the worth in this type of thing. In my research, I did not find one place that recycled for free, which is unfortunate, because I'm sure this would be a deterrent for some--"Why spend spend time and money to take my trash somewhere when I can just throw it in my garbage for free?" To all those that feel that way, and probably none of you are reading my blog, it IS worth the time and money! We need to do what we can to help sustain our world instead of deplete it! Do it for your grandchildren! Ok, sorry, rant over!

To learn more about the ACCRC check out their website at

Peace, . .

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Footprint Experiment; Part I

I AM a lover of the earth, but am I REALLY? Do I live in a way that would sustain our planet and it's population? Lately I've been really interested in learning what my impact is this planet and how I can contribute to the overall health of our world. The first step in the process is to become aware of how much damage I personally am doing.

After doing some digging, I found a few carbon footprint calculator's that I liked, and yes, I tried MANY . . .

The Global Footprint Network has a fun little cartoon that creates a virtual story as you answer the questions. They also emphasize the importance of buying local and sustainable foods, which has a huge impact on one's carbon footprinting, and an aspect which not many calculators go into detail over. In the end, when they show you your results, they don't just give you a number, they put it in perspective. You can imagine my surprise when I read that "if everyone lived like you (me), we'd need 3.8 Planet Earths to provide enough resources"! To support my current lifestyle it would take 16.7 global acres of the Earth's land, . . .what's scary is that we thought that we were pretty good about being sustainable! We have a lot of work to do! We aren't major meat eating jet-setters, but there are things around our house that are huge energy eaters and things that we can re-evaluate.

Has a neat little calculator as well, this one breaks down your footprint very clearly into transportation, housing, and shopping. It also compares your results with the average of others in the same economical status, an interesting little comparison. However my results were still alarmingly high, with a carbon footprint of 60 metric tons of CO2/year, equal to others in my income bracket, and much higher than the world average which they calculate as 10! Holy cow!

Last, the Nature Conservatory, has a simple calculator that also compares your results to a national average and a world average. The quiz is more detailed than others and even asks questions about steps that you taken to conserve which I liked because I felt that it took some of the considerations we've already made towards a greener living into count. As you answer the questions, you can actually see the calculator subtracting C02 figures. With this calculator our results ended up being 41 tons of C02 against a national average of 80 and a world average of 17. Slightly better, but still alarmingly high.

This little experiment has really opened my eyes. Gary and I are conscious about our impact, but apparently not enough. We both want to do what we can to contribute to a sustainable future for us, our daughter, her children and so on and so forth. For now, we have decided to try and make the following changes and see how this will change our carbon footprint, . . .

1. Get our hot tub better insulated. A biggy! Twehe reason we got solar panels is because our hot tub uses tons of electricity, however, our bills are still higher than we want them. We got the solar panels hoping we would balance it at 0 and we are a far cry from that.

2. Change ALL of our light bulbs--we've changed many, but now we will change them all.

3. By locally--period! This will be the hard one. We've given ourselves each one luxery item, for Gary, it'll have to be Marmite, his staple from home, for me, I'm not quite sure yet. We by most produce from local farmers, but now we want to extend that to all corners of our pantry.

So that's what we are starting with. Admittedly, the task of eating only local goods is a bit daunting to me. I was at the grocery store today and when I went to reach for the bag of bagels I thought to myself, "well shit! I don't know where the flour comes from or anything else in that bagel for that matter!" Next I looked at the organic chicken I usually buy and found out it had been shipped from Colorado! So I guess this is where the research begins! Let's see what happens!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lanolizing wool covers

So in my cloth diapering adventures I got attracted to the wonders of wool. I had been told that a wool diaper cover, when prepped right, is a leak free solution during the day and even at night. Finally after learning how to lanolize my covers correctly, my little babe can sleep through the night in her cloth diaper and wool cover and be completely dry in the morning. It took me a while to figure out how to lanolize though, I actually ruined three diaper covers before I figured out the right combo--not a cheap mistake. I figured I would spread the love and for those of you that are interested in trying it out, you can follow my little tutorial here, . . . .

Here's what you will need:

Wool wash--I use Eucaline
Lanoline: you can use Lansinoh (the same stuff you put on your sore boobs) or any liquid lanoline
Jar with a top
kitchen towel
Big towel
Boiling water
Large pot full of tepid water

1. Put the kettle on to boil
2. Fill a large pot with tepid water
3. First combine a teaspoon of wool wash in with an inch of Lanoline (if using liquid lanoline, use 3/4 teaspoon)

4. Poor boiling water into jar, fill jar up just a little, like an inch above the bottom
5. Put top on, HOLD JAR WITH KITCHEN TOWEL (or else you will burn your hands) and shake to mix wash and lanoline

6. Add mixture to the pot with tepid water

7. Immerse your covers in the water, pulling them inside out and GENTLY massaging them with water. Treat wool like you would your hair, wool is very sensitive and can shrink if it's tampered with too much.

8. Let covers sit for 15 minutes
9. Take covers out and put in the center of a thick towel

10. Roll the towel up and gently squeeze water out of the covers DO NOT ring water out of or directly squeeze wool covers

11. Take wool covers and dry flat or hang dry--many people advise not to hang dry because wool can change shape and become deformed, I have not had a problem with this as the covers I have chosen are pretty sturdy. The covers also dry faster when they hang up.

12. Be sure to pull covers inside out every 4-5 hours to make drying process speed up.

13. Put diaper on baby tush and pull on cover--now your baby is ready for bed!

"Good night!"

Cloth Diapering Isn't that Hard!

I can't tell you how much I love cloth diapering! Putting all natural fibers against my baby's sensitive skin is such a wonderful way of taking care of that silky soft tush. Disposables can be good for trips, but even when I put the disposable on my little girl, I don't like it--I can actually smell the chemicals permeate through her clothes. I much rather deal with a poopie cloth diaper! Here is my set up!

Honestly, I don't judge. What works for one mom, won't work for another. I am a full-time stay-at-home mom, I have the time to do it, and for some reason I don't get too grossed out dealing with stinky diapers. Cloth diapering is really not that difficult. For some reason they get such a bad rap. Maybe this is because we are a society that is on-the-go. Cloth diapering does take a little bit more time, but not a lot! In fact I do a diaper load every 3-4 days, isn't that reasonable? Plus, it feels good knowing that I'm not contributing to our landfills in that way.

We did end up purchasing a new washer and dryer. The day they came I couldn't wait to get started and see what these new mega machines could do--you really know your life has changed when you get excited about a washer and dryer ;) We had an old top loader which was a water guzzler--not good here in California! Our dyer was old and most likely using way too much energy. Once I started washing our diapers in the new machine, the process went faster and they seemed to get cleaner.

All in all, it has been an interesting learning curve for me, you wouldn't believe how many different types of cloth diapers there are out there, pre-folds, fitteds, All-In-Ones, flat diapers, Pockets, the list goes on and on. And different ways to put them on too--snaps, pins, snappies, velcro, side snaps, front snaps, . . .! What has been important has been learning what works best for me and my babe. And, . . . there is nothing cuter than seeing your little babe wander around with a huge diaper butt!